France: education unions mobilise for better wages and public education

published 13 March 2024 updated 18 March 2024

No to the knowledge shake-up, yes to a wage shake-up! This is the message that education unions in France want to deliver to the government. Unions are opposing budget cuts, warning that the purchasing power of public sector workers’ is plummeting. They have called a strike for education staff on March 19th.

Education International fully supports the alliance between its members FSU, UNSA Éducation, SGEN-CFDT, CGT Edu’action, and SUD education. The unions condemn “the lack of any prospect of general measures to increase wages in national education in a context of continued inflation. Negotiations must urgently begin to improve careers and for general measures on wages to be adopted, in particular by resetting the index value, in a context of plummeting wages for public sector workers.”

Public Service Law not a solution to the crises

Far from responding to the issue of wages and working conditions, the law that the French President supports has been criticised by unions for being “a move that aims to avoid the urgent need to increase wages and risks creating divisions between public sector workers as well as new inequalities, particularly between men and women”.

The inter-union alliance considers that staff “are not waiting to have their “worth” recognised but rather to receive wages that allow them to have a decent life and that are taken into consideration when calculating their pensions. They also expect to be given the means to carry out their duties in good conditions, including in the interest of users.”

No to the “knowledge shake-up”

Unions are also critical of the “knowledge shake-up”, a government plan aiming to bring authority and excellence back in schools. Education unions are calling for action to continue until the plan is abandoned. In addition, unions are demanding a stop to the job cuts and for the government to create the jobs needed for the 2024-2025 school year. They are also calling for career paths to be reformed, particularly for final year students.

Thus, unions are demanding the necessary means to reduce class sizes, ensure replacements, and guarantee specialised teaching is offered when needed: “We condemn the 700 million euro cut to the National Education budget: this will have a very real impact on schools and education establishments, on pupils and staff at a time when schools lack so much!”

The full inter-union alliance communique can be found here (in French).